One of the most exciting things about picking Environmental Science as a degree has been the variety of ways in which we have been taught, from the lab practicals to field work and field trips. I have had a chance to take part in all sorts of practicals and field trips throughout the course of my degree. I thought I would share just a bit about them and why they make this degree one of the best!
The amount of time spent in a lab is one of the main things that distinguishes the Environmental science from the Environmental Geography pathway at York. Getting a chance to get hands-on and have a go at the chemistry that we are taught in lectures is a really good way to fully understand what is going on and visualise it.
If you are considering taking Environmental Science and didn’t take Chemistry at A-level, don’t worry. Many people in my year were worried about the chemistry practicals, so don’t let the thought of spending time in a lab put you off! Some of the most rewarding work in my degree has been from getting a chemistry practical to work, as well as some of the funniest moments too. There are plenty of people in the department and in the library who will help you with your labs if you get stuck.
One of the main features of the University is the giant lake right in the middle of the Heslington West campus. This particular feature of campus is something that you will become very familiar with during your time as an Environmental Science student. Each year has involved some form of biological or chemical analysis of the lake, which has involved everything from wading thigh deep into it to collect water samples, to feeding ducks! By the time you graduate you will know all there is possible to know about the water quality of the lake, as well as all of the chemical tests that can be carried out to determine the chemical and biological water quality. You will also leave wondering how on earth several trolleys and many other weird objects have ended up there!?
Another wonderful thing about going to University in York is the proximity to the North Yorkshire Moors. There are many societies that make the most of the moors being so close by, but it would be a shame if the Environment Department didn’t also make the most of the wonderful landscape nearby! As such, there have been several day trips to the moors to investigate peat bogs, marshland, glacial landscapes and geology. Through these, we again get to visualise what is talked about in lectures, which is really valuable.
One of the most exciting and highly anticipated parts of my degree was our second year field trip to Tenerife! This took place during the first week of term after the Easter holidays and involved spending a week on the island taking part in various activities.
The trip was fantastic as it meant we all had the opportunity to bond as a year group by spending time eating ice cream on a black sand beach as well as learn in a (warm!) outdoors environment. During the week we were in Tenerife we visited multiple water treatment plants, looking at how the island dealt with meeting its high water demands. We also went on a walk round the top of the volcano, Mt Teide and got to go inside a lava tube – just to mention of our activities! We also took part in our own group project on the slopes of Mt Teide. We then presented our findings on our return to York. So besides getting to enjoy lots of sunshine, we also got a chance to take charge of our own fieldwork.
All in all, the Environment Department at York is a really fun and exciting department to be part of. Where else would it be normal to find a live bat in a lecture?!
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